Joey Carbery clear to play for Munster as O’Mahony and Zebo miss crucial Ulster match

Munster's Joey Carbery (r) and Ben Healy during a training session at the University of Limerick this week. Photo: Sportsfile

David Kelly

Peter O’Mahony and Simon Zebo have been ruled out of Munster’s crucial URC clash in Belfast tomorrow night but Joey Carbery has been cleared to play.

O’Mahony didn’t come through a training week along with Niall Scannell after both picked up minor knocks in the victory against Exeter last weekend while Zebo missed out due to personal reasons.

Ulster out-half Billy Burns has failed to recover from a concussion problem so Mike Lowry reverts to out-half as Dan McFarland’s side seek to copper-fasten their hold on second place and a favourable home play-off route to a June final.

There are seven changes to the Munster side that beat Exeter Chiefs last weekend.

Craig Casey and Shane Daly come into the backline and there is a new front row of Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron and Stephen Archer.

Thomas Ahern comes into the second row and Greencore Munster Rugby Academy man Alex Kendellen starts at No 8.

Jack O’Donoghue captains Munster and makes a positional switch to blindside flanker.

Mike Haley starts at full-back with Keith Earls and Daly on either flank. Damian de Allende and Chris Farrell continue their centre partnership with Casey and Carbery in the half-backs.

Jean Kleyn partners Ahern in the engine room with O’Donoghue, John Hodnett and Kendellen completing the side.

Academy hooker Scott Buckley is among the replacements and in line to make his sixth appearance of the season.

For Ulster, Stewart Moore comes in to start at full-back, with Rob Baloucoune and Ethan McIlroy retained on the wings from last Saturday’s agonising European last 16 defeat against Toulouse.

Stuart McCloskey and James Hume will form the midfield pairing. Lowry makes a positional switch to start at out-half alongside John Cooney at scrum-half.

Last weekend’s starting front row have been retained, with Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring and Marty Moore selected.

Captain Iain Henderson and Alan O’Connor also keep their starting berths. Matty Rea and Jordi Murphy will come into the side at blindside and openside flankers, with Nick Timoney switching to Number Eight.

Brad Roberts, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Sam Carter and Sean Reidy provide forward cover off the bench, while Nathan Doak, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham offer the back line options.

It will be a meeting of second versus fourth in the URC standings, with Ulster currently three points ahead of the southern province.

After 15 rounds of competition, Ulster have won 10 with five defeats, while Munster's record to date shows 9 wins and 6 losses.

With just three regular season games left, the race for the URC playoffs is heating up. The top eight will make it through, with the top four earning home advantage for the quarter-finals.

Ulster have lost their last two United Rugby Championship matches and have not lost three successive league games since 2018 and they have won their last seven matches at Kingspan Stadium in the Championship since Connacht beat them there during last season’s Rainbow Cup.

Ulster have won both previous home games they have played against fellow Irish provinces this season.

Munster’s only victory in their last four United Rugby Championship encounters was 51-22 against Benetton in Cork on March 25.

They have lost their last four away games in all competitions and have not lost five in succession on their travels since 2006.

Munster beat Ulster 18-13 at Thomond Park in January but have not achieved a championship season double over the men from the North since 2016/17, losing on the last four occasions they have visited Belfast since their victory there by a solitary point in October 2016.

Munster: Mike Haley; Keith Earls, Chris Farrell, Damian de Allende, Shane Daly; Joey Carbery, Craig Casey; Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Thomas Ahern; Jack O’Donoghue (C), John Hodnett, Alex Kendellen.

Replacements: Scott Buckley, Josh Wycherley, John Ryan, Jason Jenkins, Fineen Wycherley, Conor Murray, Ben Healy, Chris Cloete.

Ulster - Stewart Moore, Rob Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Ethan McIlroy, Mike Lowry, John Cooney; Andrew Warwick, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Matty Rea, Jordi Murphy, Nick Timoney.

Replacements: Brad Roberts, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Sam Carter, Sean Reidy, Nathan Doak, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU)


Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, 7.35pm.